Born: United States of America
Primarily active in: United States of America
Sally LaForge was born in Paris, France, but was brought to the U.S. as a child. She spent most of her life in California, getting an engineering B.S. degree from the University of Berkeley and later a Master’s degree from UCLA. She was one of the few women students who chose engineering as a major in those times.
She joined the Aircraft Division of Hughes Tool Company in 1950 to work on the giant XH-17 Flying Crane. Her specialty throughout her career was aerodynamics and she rose to be Manager of Performance and Computing as the company became Hughes Helicopters and then McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co. Besides the XH-17, she worked on the OH-6, assisted in the FAA certification of the Models 300 and 500, and did performance calculations on the Hot-Cycle XV-9. Her career reached its climax with participation in the design of the Apache. She presented several papers at AHS Forums.
Following her retirement in 1986, she consulted with the RAND Corporation in their study of the requirements for the aircraft that became the Comanche. Sally was an enthusiastic airplane and sailplane pilot. She owned a Cessna with another woman and they used it to fly in several “Powder Puff Derbies” and in races of the ’90s. She was also a board member on the Santa Monica Airport Association. The passing of Sally in October of 2004 took yet another helicopter pioneer from our profession. She will be sorely missed by everyone who knew her.
AHS Update: Vertiflite Spring 2005